Matt Moore followed up his solid 2016 Giants debut by posting the highest ERA (5.52) of any qualified starter in 2017. Widely considered baseball's top prospect earlier this decade, the enigmatic southpaw has improved his control but, despite a decent 8.2 career K/9, struggles to work confidently around the plate. He lost 1.4 mph off his four-seam fastball last year, showed faulty mechanics and leaned too heavily on an ineffective cutter. Left-handers peppered the southpaw to a .438 wOBA and an 18.6 HR/FB. Despite these setbacks, he may only need tweaks to his delivery to rediscover his old promise, and as a penny stock, he still has a chance to rebound. The 28-year-old would have been a better dice roll had he remained in the National League and pitcher-friendly AT&T Park and not been dealt to the Rangers and hitter-leaning Globe Life Park in December.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister said Monday that while he intends to use a six-man rotation this season, Moore, Cole Hamels and Doug Fister will remain on normal pitching schedules in 2018, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Banister didn't say so explicitly, but Martin Perez (elbow) is also set to receive his usual four days of rest between starts once he's healthy, meaning that back-end rotation candidates Mike Minor, Matt Bush and Bartolo Colon would be more affected by the six-man setup. Assuming Banister sticks to his word, Moore can generally be expected to take the hill once every five or six days, which would put him on track for 30-plus starts if he's able to avoid the disabled list in 2018. Moore was able to do that last season and submitted a 5.52 ERA and 1.53 WHIP over 174.1 innings, so it's hard to imagine him providing much fantasy utility now that he's trading the pitcher-friendly AT&T Park for a hitter haven in Globe Life Park.
Moore retired the first six batters faced before getting fatigued and was unable to complete a third inning, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. Moore followed up his sterling first two innings by allowing three of the first four batters faced in the third inning to reach base. "I didn't have the fresh feel of the first two innings,'' Moore said. "Moving forward, I expect those things to clear up." As a projected member of the Rangers' rotation, Moore needs to maintain his effectiveness deeper into his starts as the spring progresses. He'll get another three or four spring starts to ramp up to a regular-season workload.
Moore did not throw a cut fastball during his two scoreless innings Wednesday against the White Sox, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. The Rangers would like Moore to get away from throwing the cutter, a side-to-side pitch. The club feels he's been more effective when working up and down. The pitch tends to be really good or really bad, and the left-hander threw a lot of bad ones in San Francisco last season when opponents hit .322 with a .525 slugging percentage against Moore's cutter.
Moore retired six of seven batters faced over two scoreless innings Wednesday against the White Sox. He allowed one hit and struck out one. Moore is looking to bounce back from an aberrant 2017, when he lost a National League-high 15 games and posted a 5.52 ERA in 31 starts for the Giants. The Rangers traded for the left-hander, believing they'll be getting the guy that went 45-33 with a 3.91 ERA over six seasons, mostly for Tampa Bay.
Moore (knee) is scheduled to start Wednesday's Cactus League game against the White Sox, Levi Weaver of The Athletic Dallas reports. Moore experienced some soreness behind his right knee shortly after reporting to spring training, but it doesn't sound like the issue put him too far behind the rest of his fellow pitchers. After coming over in a trade from the Giants in December, Moore is set to fill one of the openings in a beleaguered Rangers rotation this season, though the lefty can't be drafted with much confidence outside of AL-only formats. Moore submitted a 5.52 ERA and 1.53 WHIP while serving up a career-high 27 home runs in 174.1 innings last season, despite making 16 of his 31 starts at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.